Assault Occasioning Grievous Bodily Harm


Assault occasioning grievous bodily harm is an offence under section 33 of the Crimes Act 1900 ‘Act ‘pursuant to wounding or causing grievous bodily harm with intent. A person is guilty of the offence if they wound or cause grievous bodily harm to any person with intent. This is a serious charge carrying a maximum penalty of imprisonment for 25 years.[1]


What is grievous bodily harm?

In accordance with section 4 definitions in the Act, grievous bodily harm includes:

(a) the destruction of the foetus of a pregnant woman, whether or not the woman suffers any other harm

(b) any permanent or serious disfiguring of the person

(c) any grievous bodily disease[2]

The injury does not need to be permanent. It only needs to be serious to be considered to fall within this definition. Some general examples of injuries that a court has previously recognised as constituting grievous bodily harm are:

  • Mother losing her foetus
  • Broken bones
  • Severe lacerations
  • Infecting someone with a virus (e.g. HIV)


To be convicted, what do the police need to show?

In order to be convicted the police beyond reasonable doubt need to show that you fulfilled the elements of causing grievous bodily harm with intent offence. The elements for this offence are:

  1. Grievous bodily harm
  2. Intent
  3. No consent[3]

If the police are unable to prove beyond reasonable doubt there was intention to cause the harm, the offence may be considered instead under section 35 of the Act.[4] This provision governs for the offence of recklessly causing grievous bodily harm. The difference between section 35 and 33 is the element of intent.[5] The maximum penalty for a charge under section 35 is 14 years imprisonment. If you choose to be represented by a skilful defence lawyer at Walker Criminal Lawyers, they will work closely alongside you to ensure the fairest verdict is sought.


What defences may I raise?

Possible defences to the offence of assault occasioning actual bodily harm can include:

  • Self defence
  • Necessity
  • Duress

The applicability of the defences is situation dependant. If you have been charged with causing grievous bodily harm, book a free consultation with one of our lawyers to discuss the options available to you to have the strongest defence.


What penalty might I receive if I am convicted of an assault occasioning actual bodily harm offence?

Depending upon the circumstances of the offence, the court has the discretion to determine which is the most appropriate to penalise you with.

  • Prison sentence- please read about the non-parole period below
  • Intensive corrections order
  • Community corrections order
  • Fine
  • Section 10A
  • Conditional release Order
  • Section 10.


What is a standard non parole period and how will it affect me?

Extracted from part 4 division 1A of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 an offence pursuant to section 33 causing grievous bodily harm with intent has a standard non parole period of 7 years. A standard non parole period is a set minimum length of time a person needs to spend in prison because they can be released on parole. This is a serious offence whereby legal representation would be highly recommended for the best outcome.


[1] Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) s 33.

[2] Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) s 4.

[3] Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) s 33.

[4] Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) s 35.

[5] Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) s 33.

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* Information contained in this article is of a general nature only and should not be relied upon as concise legal advice.
Please contact us for legal advice tailored to your situation. *

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